The Ticket-Buying Public Needs Hope

I’m not sure who the pundit was who punned on these lyrics from the musical “Anything Goes.” When it occurred, I was stripping the carcass of our turkey and listening to MSNBC’s palaver show with Chris Matthews et al. Anyway, I think that was the show. Perhaps I heard the reference between the umpteenth plug for Mr. Matthews new book and the umpteenth reminder that Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.  One tends to loose new information with the interference of monotonous, narcissistic litany of celebrities.  For sure it was somebody on the tube and I thought it rather clever.  In the musical the word is “hoke.”

Additionally while  I can’t recall the pundit’s name or the association he/she was making, I can fairly assume  the reference might have been to something from the tower of campaign babble which is mostly hokum.  (My wife can’t recall it either.  She was trying to coax the terrier in from the cold.  Our terriers are not hokum.  They are precious.)  All of this lends an opportunity for me to commit my own, more humble bit of shameless  self-promotion.

The last ticket I bought was for the movie “My Afternoons with Margueritte” with Gérard Depardieu and Gesèle Casadesus.  The film was filled with hope in the precious power of human caring and love.  Since then a few of my lesser hopes have been dashed when I watched the annual Ohio State – Michigan battle, but I am content.  Ohio State has had a nice run.  I was glad I did not have to buy a ticket in frigid Ann Arbor to see my hopes ended. Nothing about the Gator Bowl  gives me hope, even if I bought a ticket and flew to whatever stadium it occupies. My hopes in and for President Obama have also been dashed.  I don’t know whether or not or even in what way I may yet pay for that ticket.  No one has yet offered me a better prospect, so I won’t complain until after we elect one of the Republican bozos. I would at least buy a ticket to hear Jon Huntsman.

But there’s one thing of which I am certain.  Americans deserve some decent Hope and Hope is not hoke:

If the hero’s flustered Hit him with a custard

You gotta give the people hoke.

Do your best tour jeté From a classic ballet

And they’ll rush to the lobby and smoke

Add a tiny pratfall

And you’ll be running that ball

You gotta give the people hoke

Now the critics may say it’s trash

But trash or not, it’s a smash We’ve done it again

And the crowds are standing in line

— from “Anything Goes” according to Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor.


Steadfast and cautious,

D. “Tortoise” Taylor

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Questions for “Gridlock Grover” Norquist and His Shrinking Flock – The Huffington Post

“As the work of the debt-reduction Super-Committee approaches its climax (or anti-climax) next week, the oversized role of tax lobbyist Grover Norquist has dominated the conversation, including this page one story  in today’s Washington Post, which confirms that a growing, bipartisan collection of Members of Congress is backing away from the Norquist ‘no-tax’ pledge .

“There are two themes among the statements by Senators and Representatives who are running from Grover. The first is that the Norquist pledge — often signed by candidates, now Members, many years ago in the course of a heated political campaign — is not currently binding. As Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) colorfully put it , ‘I never considered it to be like my marriage vows. I’m married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist.’  Smart decision.

“The second, even more powerful, refrain, is that the oath to the Constitution required of every public official trumps any special interest pledge. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) led an effort a couple of weeks back that produced this remarkable letter  signed by 100 Members of Congress, including 37 Republicans who had previously signed the Norquist pledge, calling for all options, including increased revenue, to be on the table in the Super-Committee negotiations. In explaining his rejection of the Norquist pledge, Simpson said  it plainly: ‘The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That’s the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that’s the pledge you oughtta be concerned about.’ ”

via Questions for “Gridlock Grover” Norquist and His Shrinking Flock – The Huffington Post.

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Do Regulations Really Hurt the Economy and Jobs?

“The two plants tell a complex story of what happens when regulations written in Washington ripple through the real economy. Some jobs are lost. Others are created. In the end, say economists who have studied this question, the overall impact on employment is minimal.”

I simply cannot let this article go by without sending it out of my hide.  I am the Tortoise and I have a very special interest in where I live, breathe and crawl about.  At the same time I don’t want jobs to disappear for folks who care about me. Good reading at the above link for an objective view — well, I think so.

Steadfast and cautious,

D. “Tortoise” Taylor

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Dropping Out of PHD School: Francine Prose

I stumbled upon comments by Francine Prose in The Atlantic.  She expresses her feelings about being among people who somehow did not share her interest in literature in quite the same way and with quite the same passion. She was among people who study “texts.”

I  have been taken  back some thirty-eight years to my own similar moments and feelings in grad school.  Unlike Prose I  hung around until my last option was exhausted.  I wanted to feel I had done my best in the face of the odds. Those three years were not wasted, but only, only because of the reading, thinking and writing I did for myself. Now that I have forgiven the naiveté of a thirty-one year old, I have no regret.

If you have stumbled upon this blog and you are facing similar decisions and feelings, I urge you to click on the link above.  Francine Prose is the author of twenty books including novels, children’s stories, novellas and short stories.

David Milliken

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College and Major Selection

In a year’s time current high school seniors will have been striding through autumn leaves for two months at the college of their dreams, whether first, second, third or fourth choice.   I think of them wistfully, nostalgically in thoughts of my own college days.  But for now the question for the next batch of frosh is where to go.  It’s crunch time for high school seniors.

Though my college years are ancient history, I marvel frequently at the differences then and now.  For me there simply was no question where I would go to college; oh, for awhile I idly wondered what it would be like to follow a girl friend to Bethany College.  But I was destined to be an Ohio Stater like my entire family before me and that was really fine with me.  And I would pledge a fraternity, too.  I was destined be a Buckeye and a Beta, kicking leaves while crossing The Oval to the  chimes of Orton Hall.  Ohio State was just too enticing for a kid from a village of five hundred.

Out of curiosity and for the purposes of blogging, I have been researching a little.  One writer makes a lot of sense to me. He says the greatest waste of money is spending exorbitant tuition and housing money just to get a silly degree.  By that he means a major in women’s studies, sociology or medieval German. (To show you how relative this judgment is, I have never regarded my two majors of international studies and English as silly. My father had other opinions.)  Some folks, the writer says, are coughing up $200,000 for this sound, quality start on a glowing career from inflated base camp —  Boston. If the individual has a million-dollar trust fund, here is a good choice.  The more sensible and just as effective  decision would be grabbing the street car across town to the local, public institution.  For such a degree the writer maintains, any old place will work.  Go cheap, get a taste of college and then get serious.

Other than the expectation that I would uphold and advance the family’s upper, middle class station in America, my parents did not hover over me.  Oh, I knew they worried about my interest in liberal arts because they knew that I had always had “nice things and trips” and would want at least those amenities to continue.  They worried about my opposition to “materialism” or whatever I thought it was and my desire to “do something for others.” Our family had never produced a minister, social worker, professor, diplomat or career public school teacher.  We have been industrialists, engineers, business people and lawyers. Nothing made my parents happier than the day I left for U. S. Naval Officer Candidate School. It was my choice and my decision. It seemed the perfect solution for me at the time. They were thinking long range and I was thinking adventure.  To them I was set. I was seeing the Pacific for the first time.  In my high school yearbook it was prophesiedthat I would be a history professor at Ohio State.  I must have said that to someone.

Because I was “second generation college” the assumption was that I knew the purpose of a university and higher education.   I loved learning, even more than football (and that was to be an individual at Ohio State). I loved university life so much I wanted it to go on forever in an endless sequence of majoring in everything. That’s not the purpose of a university.  I didn’t think international studies was silly at the time. I was interested in globe trotting.  Naval life was the first trot.

Frankly, I don’t know how I could have been more earnest than I was at the time.  I roomed with two geniuses and that was a good influence, but I was intimidated by their minds: both Phi Beta Kappas and Wilson candidates.  I knew I wasn’t that “smart.”  So, I did what made sense at the time.

And that’s where kids are in their twenties — doing what makes sense at the time.  I do not think any helicopter parent can change this. So what I might say to any twenty-something or high school senior is this:  “You don’t know how self-defining experience is yet.  You do know what pleases you more than something else. You don’t know how experience will change your perspectives.  The plodding old tortoise does.  The necessary in your life will change with living, especially if you are living to make life meaningful. Most likely you don’t know what meaningful is and no one can tell you; if someone could tell you, it wouldn’t be your discovery.  Only your discoveries will stick. Meaningfulness shifts and changes. Pragmatism in many ways is a gift from the gods, but it can be learned.

About the materialism thing.  Be careful what you jettison.  I mean, regardless of how creative or altruistic, you may be, you will still have car payments, rent and/or mortgage payments, grocery bills and on and on.  The material amounts to a lot in survival. Most of what we must do is either physical and material. Now, if your minimal acceptable standards require a Volkswagen Passat, a decent wine with dinner,  a vacation every now and then, athletic  and or concert tickets, then to that degree YOU ARE A MATERIALIST. You are going to be busy.  You cannot shake it off. Deal with that to which you have grown accustomed — likely the incontrovertible gift of your parents.  No one, except Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the starving artist  escapes materialism — especially in America.  Having good things is part of American culture — with which the smart citizen never trifles.  It’s the law.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken


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